Organ Pipe National Park

Organ Pipe National Park

About Me

I purchased "Sadie''s House On Wheels "in late 2007 and loved traveling in a motor home so much that I went on the road full time in late 2008. I started writing this blog to help me remember all the wonder places I have been and it allows me to share those places with my family and friends. Summer of 2013 I decided to hang up the keys for a while and moved back into my stick house. After nearly two years, I am on the road again.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Still heading westward, March 18-24

On Saturday afternoon the wind really kicked up in Willcox and didn't let up during the night. What a contrast from Saturday morning.  Sunday morning we decided to brave the wind and headed towards the Elks Lodge in Sierra Vista.  Sierra Vista was closer than Benson to the dentist in Naco, so Sierra Vista seemed like a logical place hang out.

On Monday we headed over to Naco, Mexico for dental appointments. The border crossing into Mexico was very different from my other Mexican border crossing experiences.  We parked the car in front of the Gay Nineties Bar about a block from the border  and followed the pedestrian signs to the border.  Although there were guards posted, none seemed to pay attention to us as we crossed over.  No questions from any of the guards.  We were at the dentist office in less then ten minutes. It was a good thing, because it was cold.

The return back to the US was just as uneventful.  We weren't even asked for our passports as we walked through the gate.  The guard smiled and wished a good day! Amazing.  Apparently, if you are driving a car you will be asked for documentation but  if you are a pedestrian you are not asked for documents. What's up with that?  I guess they'll let just anyone in???

The day started out ugly and continued to get  really ugly.  Snow and wind prevailed.  As we headed back to Sierra Vista  Elks Lodge the snow started to stick a little. ..a good day for staying in. We headed over to the lodge and caught up with many of our WIN friends who were parked at the Elks RV lot waiting out the storm before their gathering which was to begin on Tuesday.  I hadn't seen some of these folks for over a year so it was really fun to catch up.

Tuesday morning greeted us with perfect blue, but cold skies. The mountain tops surrounding Sierra Vista were gorgeous.

We pulled up the jacks and hitched up the car on a whim and headed to Casa Grande to the SKP park.  There was a Good Sam rally scheduled in the Phoenix area and I have never been to a "big" rally so it seemed like the timing was right to attend, besides we had 2 for 1 coupons!

We spent two days at the rally.  The entrance fee ended up being only $10.00 total for the two of us with the coupon and then we found out if we turned in the badge the next day we would get in free.  Wow, $2.50 a day!  But...that doesn't include the cost of fuel nor any purchases from the vendor tent.

I had a good time looking at the hundreds of RVs from the various manufactures,  but  Joel was particularly fond of this one:

It came complete with a bed and

a cook top!

Oh, those were the simple days!! I didn't have to try too hard to talk Joel out of purchasing the car or travel TV! LOL

We enjoyed our  two days of the rally, which was enough, and got plenty of ideas for projects for Joel in the future. We left the rally with our wallets intact.  I don't know how that happened!

Tomorrow (Sunday) the plans are to head back to Tucson for   Joel's annual physical checkups which don't start until the later part of the week.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Willcox and Chirichua, March 15-17

We ended up at the Willcox Elks Lodge. The weather reports for the future weren't looking good...two days of clear sunny weather and then ....that dreaded word to some RVers: SNOW for several days.   My mail had been forwarded to Benson, because the original plan was to go to Benson, so with only two days of good weather predicted we headed out towards Benson to pick up the mail and also check out the SKP park.  We drove towards Tombstone and Bisby and on to Naco.  Naco is a small border town, half in Arizona and half in Mexico. Previously,  I had heard there were several good dentists in Naco and the border crossings were easy and safe, so we had made dental appointments with Dr. Martinez later in the week and Joel wanted to check the area out and see if there was some safe dry camping nearby.  The Tourquise Golf and RV Park is located within several blocks of the border crossing and we determined they had dry camping available as well as full hookups.  Good to know.

There are a lot of  things to do in Willcox including visiting several wine tasting rooms, (which we didn't do this time)visiting the Rex Allen museum,  and checking out Eurofresh Tomatoes, which no longer gives tours.  (Eurofresh tomatoes grow in green houses in Willcox and are found in all major food stores.  They are the ones you see sold on the vine this time of year in most of the stores. ) I wanted to go to the Chiricahua National Monument about 40 miles away, so none of the above really interested me.  Actually, I've been wanting to go to Chiricahua for several years and the timing was never right. This time, the timing seemed good, so, finally, off I went.

Chiricahua mountain range experienced a huge wildfire last summer.  The fire started in early May in the Coronado National Forest and migrated to the Chiricahua in June. The fire was devastating, burning more than 220,000 acres.  My son, Conlan, was part of the fire fighting team in June working out of Rodeo directing helicopters as they filled up the water buckets.

Saturday morning was clear and warm with some wind. We headed over to the Chiricahua visitor center to get advice on what trails to hike, and which trail would offer the best views with the least elevation gain.  The ranger recommended the Echo Canyon Trail, about a 3.3 mile loop with only 500 elevation gain and descent.

The place is fascinating and I'll let the pictures speak for themselves! The major fire from last summer was evident, but it didn't spoil the beauty of this area.

Although the fire was very devastating, it was also beneficial, clearing the undergrowth.  Had there not been a fire I would not have been able to see these formations through the trees.
The same goes for this magnificent view

The trails were immaculately maintained, the views spectacular.  I've been to Bryce and Cedar Breaks and have seen many similar red rock formations, but these in Chiricahua were really spectacular.  There is a lot more to see in the area and I hope I can return sometime and hike the heart of the rocks loop trail.  

We returned to the Elks Lodge in Willcox and indulged in a tradition St. Patricks day meal of corned beef and cabbage.  Too bad they didn't have any green beer. As the day continued, so did the predicted.   

Alburquerque and more, March 13-15

The jaunt from Santa Fe to Albuquerque is short, very short. The motor home hardly got warmed up before we pulled into the Sandia Casino and Resort. The casino is located on the hillside north of town and is one of the quietest casino I have stayed in. Security checked us in and then we headed out.

We spent part of the time driving the old Route 66 and exploring the old town.  Unfortunately, we were in the old section in the late afternoon/early evening and most of the shops were closed.  The shops in the old town seemed to have a lot more junky, cheap, touristy stuff, than Santa Fe, so I don't think we missed much.

Petroglyph National Monument is an easy, short drive from the Casino and well worth a visit.  We took the Rinconada Canyon trail, 2 1/2 mile which follows the base of the rock laden hills full of Petroglyphs. The trail is just a short distance from the visitor center.   The Petroglyphs are easy to spot along the trail.  They are chiseled into the desert varnished rocks and look different from those I saw in southern Utah.

This is an small overview of the escarpment along the trail.  The monument contains over 20,000 images.

One subject that kept coming up while visiting New Mexico, was New Mexican Chili Peppers.  New Mexican Chili Pepper are supposed to be the best chili peppers and are grown in the Hatch area...on our route toward Arizona.  So when we left Albuquerque we stopped in Hatch at Chili Willies to investigate this whole New Mexican chili pepper thing.  My son Conlan had told us he buys fresh roasted chili peppers by the pound when in season and freezes them.  The nice lady at Chili Willies confirmed you can freeze fresh New Mexican chili peppers and that you can buy roasted, peeled, chopped fresh chilies by the pound.  We walked away with five pounds of frozen chilies.  What were we thinking?  We also toured the plant in back where the salsa is made and various chili powders are made.  We bought some of that also...ought to last a life time:). I'm still a little confused about all the different types of chili peppers, but it really doesn't matter at this point because I have New Mexico Chili Peppers and that is what is going to be used to cook with until they are gone!!

We left Hatch with the chilies and several pages of recipes(I'm not sure when I'll have time to cook) and continued towards Arizona, not sure where we were going to stop until we arrived at Willcox, over 300 miles from Albuquerque.  Wow!  that is the most mileage we've driven in a very long time.  More on Willcox in my next post.

Santa Fe, March 10-12

Before heading to Santa Fe we drove back over to Lake Heron to use their facilities, i.e. dump.  (There is another dump in Chama but it is almost 20 miles further.)  Joel noticed there was a dried up mess around the sewer  drain and decided to hose it off.  You guessed it.  The sewer was plugged.  None of the water and muck would drain down the hole. This was one time I was glad Joel is so picky.  He could have hooked up the sewer hose and pulled the black water handle  and there would have been a real mess. Fortunately, the lid to the main sewer drain was unlocked and close to the hose  and we were able to get it the lid off and drain the black water into the main drain.  Whew..the black water tanks were really full and we would have had to drive another 20 miles up the road to find another dump before heading to Santa Fe.

With the tanks emptied,  we were finally on our way to Santa Fe for the night.  Actually, we ended up spending several nights at the Elks Club in Santa Fe.  We woke up to snow the first morning, but by mid morning, the sun came out and we went exploring.

Looking east from the Elks parking lot:

 The old downtown area is a shoppers mecca with lots of specialty stores.  We parked the car and walked the area. (parking is hard to find and expensive). Last year when I was in Prescott I purchased some aged balsamic vinegar and I've used up most of it and have been looking for more. Aged balsamic vinegar is sweeter and not as acidic as the stuff you buy in the  grocery store and it is as costly as buying a nice bottle of wine, thus not to be used for cooking and is great for salads.  The Oleaceae in Santa Fe has a huge selection of balsamic vinegar and olive oil and it was hard to decide which one to buy. I was successful in finding what I wanted so I can  cross that one off the list.

This is the beautiful old St. Francis Cathedral. Some of the churches actually had an entrance fee to go in, but this one did not.

Some fun wind sculptures in the main square. There was also a market going on. 

One day we ventured down to the Rail Yard, which is not  far from the old town. You can catch the  Roadrunner Train which is a commuter train and makes frequent stops on the way to  Albuquerque.  It makes several runs a day and when I saw it, it was pretty full of commuters. Parking is a real challenge and very expensive so I can understand why people park and ride.

There is also a very nice bicycle path which traverses Santa Fe.  You can catch it near the Rail Yard. We caught the bike bath and road for a long ways until....we hit some hills. Joel doesn't "do" hills.  On the way back we stopped at the local Brewery for a brew for Joel's reward. :)

The weather in Santa Fe has been absolutely gorgeous but it is time to move on.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Lake Huron and El Valdo and Canjilon

Just up the road from "The Guerin Ranch" is Lake Huron State Park and just down the road on Highway 112 is the El Valdo Dam, so a little exploring was on the agenda.  Highway 112 is a paved road that  parallels highway 84.  There are about 16 miles of dirt road and a dam crossing which  is not open to trucks or large motor homes.   Highway 112   forks and changes name and follows the shore of  El Valdo and eventually intersects into the dam at Lake Huron... according to the GPS that is.

El Valdo Reservoir

We followed the dirt road round the shore of El Valdo until it turned to mud, then to snow, and more mud before turning around.  We were slipping and sliding along the way and I was just a tad nervous before Joel turned the car around. The little Honda CRV did well, but was nothing like being in a Jeep. We ended up going back to the ranch and hosing some of the mud off before heading over to Lake Huron.

Rio Chama runs into and out of Lake Heron and eventually runs into the Rio Grande farther south.
Lake Heron

Lake Heron was partially frozen over and the park is open year around, and a popular place for ice fishing in the winter.  However, this winter has been mild and although there was ice, it wasn't thick enough for traditional ice fishing.  The lake is a no wake lake and a popular place to launch sail boats and kayaks.  There were numerous campsites that would work with big rigs. This is one place I will definitely coming back to.

This next day we decided to drive to Canjilon, a little tiny village south of Tierra Amarilla.  My son Conlan works out of the Carson Forest Ranger Station located there.  We decided to head up to the Conjilon Lakes which I had visited in the fall, but there was way too much snow to make it all the way up to the lakes.   Again, this will be an area worth visiting in the summer of fall.

Conlan and Gayle attend a Yoga class every Thursday evening followed with a potluck dinner.  I love Yoga and couldn't pass up the opportunity to participate.  Joel actually took part in the Yoga class, the teacher proclaiming he was a natural!  Hmm.... maybe he'll be the next yogi??

On Friday, we headed over to Los Osos to Tierra Wools.  Tierra Wools is the place to go if you are into weaving.  They have looms for rent and every type of wool yarn imaginable for sale, along with beautiful woven art work.  It was a feast of colors for the eyes. I wished I had taken some pictures.

The Guerin Ranch in the early morning

On Saturday morning  Elk were grazing  on new grass in the front pasture next to the house, a sign of spring. Gayle gets really excited when the Elk come down looking for the new grass because it means the pastures will start to dry out and spring and summer are just around the corner.

Well, we have been in this beautiful enchanting area for almost a week, and so as not to wear out our welcome, we pulled up the jacks and hitched upon and headed  to Santa Fe late Saturday morning.
 Santa Fe is only about 125 miles from the Ranch. 

Friday, March 9, 2012

Quick Trip to Taos, March 6

Taos is about 1 1/2 hour drive on NM 64, a beautiful drive near Panasco Amarillo.  We climbed nearly to 10,000 feet and descended down towards the Rio Grande Gorge.

On the way to Taos and before crossing the Rio Grande Gorge, we came upon some Earthship homes.  Earthship homes are built from earth, and recycled materials such as steel built tires, aluminum cans and bottles.  Water is cached from rain water and is used 4 times and solar power is used so these homes are totally off the grid.  They are pretty interesting and you can buy plans to build one.  I googled Earthship and found a lot of intriguing information. Tours are offered, but we decided not to participate this time.

This is the back side of one of the "Earthship" homes.  Doesn't look like much form this side.

 But this is the south facing side.  There is a green house behind the solar panels, where food is grown and water is filtered and recycled.
 This is an elaborate work in progress.  Note the tires used for a foundation, which provides very thick walls for insulation.
 This is the other side.
 Earthship visitor center.
 Earthship homes dot the high desert east of Taos.

Next we crossed the Rio Grande Gorge before heading on to Taos.

  We spent the rest of the day in Taos wandering around a few of the shops and lunch. We then headed back to Tierra Amarilla through the railroad town of Antonito.  There is a narrow gage train that runs from Chama to Antonito that is suppose to be a great experience, especially during the fall.  Next time. I can't wait to return to this area during the fall to see the fall colors.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

More on Tierra Amarillo, March 5

The area around Tierra Amarilla has several state parks and numerous wildlife refuges.  Gayle works a split shift driving the school bus in the morning and afternoon, so has mid-day free.  She suggested we go snowshoeing at Edward Sargent Wildlife Refuge outside of Chama.  Oh course I wasn't going to turn down the opportunity to have a little fun in the snow.  We loaded up the dogs and snowshoes and headed out to the refuge.

What a beautiful area.  We didn't see any wildlife, but the gentle rolling hills made for beautiful scenery.

I especially liked the contract of the blue sky and the dormant willows.  Chama Peak is one of the peaks in the distance.

After snowshoeing we headed over to the Three Ravens Coffee shop. The Three Ravens is the local meeting place offering the best coffee and comradery you will find anywhere in the north.  Paul, the owner renovated an old adobe and turned his vision into a place where locals meet and hang out.  For more information google Three Ravens Coffee Shop.  There is more than meets the eye.

Stay tuned for more on this area.  I had planned to stay just a day or two, but there is something about this place that makes me want to stay much longer.

Brazo Cliffs and Pagosa Springs, Co. March 4

Sunday morning brought beautiful blue skies with crisp tempatures that promised to reach in the high 50's.  Conlan and his girfriend Gayle, had participated in a Quadathalon the day before and so were moving a little slowly. (The quadathalon consists of running, cycling, snowshoeing, and swimming.) After a liesurely breakfast we headed out to do some exploring.

Our first stop was the Brazo Cliffs, just a short drive up the road from Tierra Amarilla.  There are summer cabins and lodges at the base of the cliffs and the area is mostly private.

Along the way we saw some deer.

Next we headed up to Pagosa Springs, Colorado, not too far from the New Mexico  border.  Pagosa is famous for its hot springs and spas.  We spent the rest of the day soaking in the various tubs.  There is a soaking tub for everyones needs ranging from 97 degrees to 110 degrees and the river is a few steps away if you want to jump in and get cooled off.

Conlan and  Gayle, really enjoyed the spas. They had been a little sore from the prior days activities but the hot spas soaked away the soreness.

Joel really liked the "lobster pot" at 107 degrees.
The is a view of the whole spa area.  You can see all the different spas.

What a relaxing day. Next, we headed over to the brew pub for a cold one and light dinner before heading  back to Tierra Amarilla.  What a great way to spend the day!